Here’s How to Avoid Incontinence During Pregnancy

Your pregnancy should be an exciting time. But for many women, it is marred by incontinence. Is it something that goes hand in hand with a growing baby? Is there anything you can do to prevent it?

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Preventing incontinence in pregnancy

Incontinence in pregnancy can be managed with a growing range of women’s incontinence pads available today. Unlike sanitary ware, incontinence pads absorb both urine and odour.

However, incontinence during pregnancy is not inevitable and neither should it be for weeks or months after giving birth either.

Why does it happen?

There are a few reasons why incontinence happens during pregnancy. Understanding these and how your body is changing is instrumental in preventing incontinence;

  1. Hormones – when you become pregnant, your body surges with all kinds of hormones. Some of these hormones could have an effect on your bladder. Some women find that accidental leaks or urine happen from early pregnancy until a few weeks after the birth. After this time, hormones return to normal levels and incontinence can stop.
  2. Weight of the growing baby – urinary incontinence is very common in late pregnancy as the weight of the growing baby places pressure on the bladder. This can be managed with incontinence products.
  3. Medical conditions e.g. UTIs – urinary incontinence can be symptomatic of urinary tracts infections (UTIs). If it is hurts or stings to urinate, see your GP.
  4. Weak pelvic floor muscles – the pelvic floor is the muscle that you use to control your bladder. If this is weak or damaged, it can make urinary incontinence a frequent occurrence.

What can be done about it?

Prevention is always better than cure and the good news is, urinary incontinence during pregnancy can be prevented. Try these ideas…

#1 Pelvic floor exercises

These are simple exercises that you do several times in a day. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, giving you more control to keep urine in your bladder even when you have an urgent need to visit the bathroom.

You don’t need any expensive equipment and you can do them in the privacy of your own home, at work, anywhere in fact!

These exercises involve clenching, holding and then releasing your pelvic floor muscle. Find your pelvic floor muscle by clenching it the next time you are urinating. When you release the muscle, urine will flow again. Once you get the feel for where it is, do these exercises when you are not urinating as some medical professionals believe that by clenching and releasing when you urinate can lead to urinary tract infections.

These exercises are considered safe and beneficial to a pregnant woman but if you are unsure, check with your midwife. Neither should these exercises hurt. Again talk to your midwife if they do.

#2 Pregnancy yoga

Yoga is an exercise regime that many people enjoy, and for pregnant women it is a gentle means of staying active right the way through pregnancy and after the birth too.

There are many challenges and changes to face when you are pregnant, including managing incontinence. This can impact on your emotional well-being, something that the calming practice of yoga can help with.

Yoga has also been proved to help reduce or even eliminate in some cases, urinary incontinence. This is because many of the exercises and stretches use the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.

Starting yoga during pregnancy is possible but make sure you talk it through with your midwife first and that your yoga instructor is qualified.

#3 Healthy lifestyle choicesOpting for a healthy lifestyle can also help incontinence during pregnancy. Cutting down on caffeinated drinks – tea, coffee, energy drinks and some hot chocolate brands – stopping smoking and drinking, as well as watching what you eat all play an impact on staying healthy in pregnancy.

Some food and drinks can exacerbate urinary incontinence. Spicy foods and acidic foods can irritate the bladder, causing an increase in the frequency to urinate. It may be that once your body returns to normal post-birth, that these foods and drinks will no longer irritate your bladder.

If it carries on…?

Your body can take six to eight weeks to recover after giving birth. If urinary incontinence lasts longer than this, seek medical help.

Incontinence is not an inevitable part of being a new mum. Just because you experience some level of urinary incontinence in pregnancy does not mean it will carry on in the longer term. If you have any concerns, always seek medical help.

HARTMANN Direct have a range of incontinence products for both men and women. No matter what level of absorbency you need, they have a product that fits.

How to Deal with Incontinence Whilst Pregnant

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Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it is also nine months of changes. As the baby grows, it will place pressure on all your organs including the bladder which can lead to accidental leaks of urine.

Pregnancy incontinence is common, with some women also finding control of their bladder difficult after the birth too. The good news is that with exercises and incontinence products such as those available from HARTMANN Direct, you can manage incontinence so that you can still enjoy life – and your pregnancy.

Why pregnancy incontinence happens

We urinate by relaxing the muscles around the urethra, allowing urine to flow from the bladder out of the body. When we are not urinating, these muscles are contracted, stopping the flow or urine as it collects in the bladder.

As well as a growing baby ‘sitting’ on your bladder, there are also hormonal changes in the body that affect how the urethra contracts and relaxes, adding extra pressure to what is known as stress incontinence. This means you accidentally leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze and so on.

Getting your body in shape – and keeping it in shape – is something we should all be doing but, when it comes to pregnancy, being fit, healthy and active can make pregnancy and birth easier. It also means that important muscles, such as the pelvic floor muscle group that supports the bladder, is able to do its job properly – and stop accidental leaks of urine.

Pregnancy incontinence does not have to make your life a misery!

Rather than ‘putting up with it’, you can manage pregnancy incontinence with these simple tips;

  • Incontinence products

Sanitary wear is not the same as incontinence products. Unlike sanitary towels, an incontinence pad not only traps the urine, it also traps odour.

When the pad absorbs small droplets of urine, it locks it into an inner core of material, so that the top layer of the pad is not wet against the skin. If this happens, sensitive skin can become inflamed and sore, making every movement a little more uncomfortable than it needs to be.

This is why choosing the right incontinence pad with the right level of absorbency is key. You may find your needs change as your pregnancy progresses, so make sure you get the best product for you. And remember, this is not a long term issue – it can be resolved post-birth.

  • Schedule toilet visits

There is no way around it – when you are pregnant, you will need to visit the bathroom more often. This is not a sign of weakness or not coping with pregnancy, but something that happens with hormone changes and a growing baby in your womb.

As well as using incontinence pads to manage accidental leaks, try visiting the bathroom every two hours, and certainly before you leave to go shopping or on the commute to work etc. By scheduling toilet visits, you will not be left with a full bladder, which can be difficult to cope with when you have a very urgent need to urinate.

  • Practice pelvic floor exercises

The pelvic floor muscles are unlike any other muscle group in the body. They run from the pubic bone at the front of your body across to the small of the back. These are sling-like muscles that when weakened by pregnancy or childbirth, can lead to accidental loss of urine.

The good news is that like other muscles in the body, you can make them strong again and prevent incontinence.

Finding your pelvic muscles can be done by stopping the flow of urine when you urinate but don’t do this on a regular basis as it is thought to be a cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs) despite them being easily treatable at a private urologist clinic, they aren’t comfortable. . Once you are aware of where these muscles are, simple contract them and hold them for a few seconds.

Do this several times in one set – e.g. 10 clench and release exercises per set – and also performing them two to three times a day. This will not only help incontinence but also during the birth too. You can do these exercises during pregnancy and immediately after the birth too.

  • Keep an eye on your weight

You will put weight on during pregnancy – this is the growing baby as well as fluid. There was once a saying ‘eating for two’ but in the modern day, most medical experts would agree that this is a fallacy.

You should follow a healthy diet, with moderate to gentle exercise and avoid some foods and drinks that can make incontinence worse, such as caffeinated drinks, citrus fruits and so on.

Pregnancy incontinence is not a long term problem that means it will affect you for the rest of your life. Practice pelvic floor exercises and follow a healthy diet – and enjoy your pregnancy too!

 

HARTMANN Direct supply incontinence products for both men and women to domestic and commercial customers. With a range suitable for pregnant women, they have the product you need to help manage pregnancy incontinence.